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It was the most expensive barbecue in all history, writes Berlin’s Tageszeitung today about a fete arranged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for George W. Bush and his entourage in 2006.
On a warm summer evening four years ago, helicopters set down on the Trinwillershagen athletic field and one of the most powerful men of the world walked into the little village with 700 inhabitants. Chancellor Angela Merkel had invited George W. Bush to her home electoral district in Western Pomerania—she planned to offer him a hearty meal of barbecued wild boar and to send the world many harmonious photographs of the gathering. But hardly had the proprietor of the Gasthof zu den Linden removed the boar meat from the skewers when a controversy began in Germany about this “most expensive barbecue in history.” The event did not bring only politicians to Merkel’s constituency. A force of 12,225 policemen from throughout Germany were also deployed to provide security for the state visitors in the region between Rostock and Stralsund.
Who footed the bill? The taxpayers, of course. An administrative court is now dealing with a request for information on the total bill for the event. The security bill alone seems to amount to €5.7 million, while the total approaches €8.7 million ($11 million). And this doesn’t include any of the costs absorbed by the American taxpayers, who of course paid for the small army of Secret Service agents also deployed to the event. The national security state hardly pauses a second over a decision to drop $11 million for a nice barbeque. Security, of course, forms the main course.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."